This recording marked the genesis of the group known as Fourplay.
The original lineup of James, Mason, East, and Ritenour released their self-titled debut in 1991, and stayed together for three successive albums, including Elixir in 1994.
In this documentary-style concert film Whalum chronicles his recording process and offers candid reflections on his career and music.
The film not only explores Whalum’s integration of jazz and gospel with rhythm and blues via a series of live performances, but also features a live recording session at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn and showcases his collaborations with Rick Braun, Norman Brown, “Doc” Gibbs, Sheléa, John Stoddart, Gerald Veasley, Kevin Whalum, Kenneth Whalum III and more.
Album 4included compositions by all four members, and featured an impressive crew of guest vocalists, including El Debarge, Babyface Edmonds, Kevyn Lettau and Shanice.
Carlton stayed with the group for 12 years, before delving into his own solo career.
In 2010, virtuoso guitarist Chuck Loeb joined Fourplay on Let’s Touch the Sky, which features vocals by Anita Baker and Ruben Studdard.
2012 brought Esprit De Four, which is highlighted by “Put Our Hearts Together”.
The album weaves a variety of genres into a tapestry of Fourplay’s signature jazz foundations, and features vocals Esperanza Spalding.
The story begins in 1990, with keyboardist Bob James, who had already established himself as a formidable figure in jazz, known not just as an instrumentalist, also but as a composer and arranger, with a solo career dating back to the mid-1960s.
It was in 1990, when James decided to reunite with Harvey Mason during the recording of James’ album Grand Piano Canyon.
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Improvisation reigned supreme in 2002 with Heartfelt, born from a series of improvisational performances developed into full compositions with less clearly defined melodies.